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Trump paid no income tax in 2020, reported losses in office

Former US president Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, Nov 18, 2022. (REBECCA BLACKWELL / AP)

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump paid no income tax during the final full year of his presidency as he reported a loss from his sprawling business interests, according to tax figures released by a congressional panel.

The records, released late on Tuesday by the Democratic-led House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee after a years-long fight, show that Trump's income, and his tax liability, fluctuated dramatically during his four years in the White House.

The records cut against the Republican ex-president's long-cultivated image as a successful businessman as he mounts another bid for the White House.

Trump and his wife, Melania, paid some form of tax during all four years, the documents showed, but were able to minimize their income taxes in several years as income from Trump's businesses was more than offset by deductions and losses

Trump and his wife, Melania, paid some form of tax during all four years, the documents showed, but were able to minimize their income taxes in several years as income from Trump's businesses was more than offset by deductions and losses.

The committee questioned the legitimacy of some of those deductions, including one for $916 million, and members said on Tuesday the tax returns were short on details. The panel is expected to release redacted versions of his full returns in coming days.

Trump refused to make his tax returns public during his two presidential bids and his campaign for office, even though all other major-party presidential candidates have done so for decades.

The committee obtained the records after a years-long fight and voted on Tuesday to make them public.

A Trump spokesman said the release of the documents was politically motivated.

"If this injustice can happen to President Trump, it can happen to all Americans without cause," Trump Organization spokesman Steven Cheung said on Wednesday.

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Democrats on the panel said their review found that tax authorities did not properly scrutinize Trump's complex tax returns to ensure accuracy.

Though the US Internal Revenue Service is supposed to audit presidents' tax returns each year, it did not do so until Democrats pressed for action in 2019.

The IRS assigned only one agent to the audit most of the time, the panel found, and did not examine some of the deductions claimed by Trump.

The IRS declined to comment.

Prior to taking office, Trump reported heavy losses for many years from his business to offset hundreds of millions of dollars in income, according to media reports and trial testimony about his finances.

The documents released by the committee showed that pattern continued during his time in the White House.

During that time Trump and his wife were liable for self-employment and household employment taxes. As a result, they paid a total of $3 million in taxes over those four years.

But deductions enabled them to minimize their income tax liability in several years.

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In 2017, Trump and his wife reported adjusted gross income of negative $12.9 million, leading to a net income tax of $750, the records showed.

They reported adjusted gross income of $24.3 million in 2018 and paid a net tax of $1 million, while in 2019 they reported $4.4 million of income in 2019 and paid $134,000 in taxes.

In 2020, they reported a loss of $4.8 million and paid no net income tax.